Monday, January 16, 2012

A special day calls for a special tea -- Sparrow Tongue

Monday's would generally be green tea days, but a special day calls for a special tea .... allow me to introduce you to yellow tea ...

The delicate bud and one leaf is carefully processed to separate when brewed forming a shape much like a sparrow's forked tongue. A light yellow liquor with a pleasing mellow flavor. 185° 1-2 level teaspoons tea per 8 ounces water; steep for 2-3 minutes. Multiple infusions encouraged. Organic.

What the heck is Yellow Tea?

The process of making yellow tea differs from that of making green tea in that the yellow tea is allowed to oxidize ("ferment") for a little longer than green tea, and is then dried more slowly, often between sheets of a special paper. The result is leaves that have a light green or light yellow appearance. Some have compared the yellow tea leaves to white tea, but without the white down.

Yellow tea has a lighter flavor, yet not quite as light as white tea, and not as vegetal or grassy as many green teas. The aroma is described as flowery, fresh and mild.

Yellow tea is typically harvested early in the year, before most green teas are harvested. This means that the leaves are younger, that they are still rolled up into buds, and that the leaves are smaller when rolled out. While green tea is often cut and ground, yellow tea is always sold in whole leaves, often in thin buds.

As for health benefits, well ... not much research has been done. However, the leaves come from the same plants as white tea and green tea, so it is not unreasonable to believe that the health benefits might be quite the same as those found in the heavily studied green tea.

Yellow tea is rare, and very little of the annual harvest is allocated to yellow tea production. Yellow tea is, at $9.00 and ounce, a little pricier than other teas.

I've always justified the cost of tea by accepting that I'm paying for some that was hand-processed and flown to me from the other side of the world. In that light, its tea the most affordable luxury in our lives today? Off to ponder that over a cup of Sparrow Tongue.

(Should have been here the day it first arrived. The mysterious looking bag says Sparrow Tongues amidst a lot of Chinese text. The employee and a curious customer had a lot of questions for me when I walked through the door ...)

Hey PETA peeps: No sparrows where injured during the manufacturing of this tea.

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